By Rick Brown
The Denver Broncos (3-8) came to California to play the Oakland Raiders (5-6) on Sunday, and the heated AFC-rivalry turned ugly. In the first quarter, a fight exploded on the field between Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree. The fight cleared both benches and three players (Talib, Crabtree and Raiders guard Gabe Jackson) were ejected from the game.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph went with second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch, as he tried to find a way to spark an anemic offense. But things did not get any better for the Broncos as the team could not get going. As the game progressed, the Broncos defense tired and started giving up plays. If things could not get any worse, an injury to Lynch late in the third quarter made for an interesting situation. Out onto the field came Trevor Siemian, and he was finally able to lead the team to some points. In the end though, the Broncos came up short with a 21-14 loss to extend the team’s losing streak to seven games.
After the Broncos’ sixth loss in a row, the front office decided to move on from offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Now, the Broncos offense will be in the hands of Lynch and Bill Musgrave. Nothing seems to have changed as the offense was still experiencing problems in the red zone on Sunday against the Raiders.
After an early first quarter turnover, Lynch moved the team into the red zone and threw an interception in the end zone. This was the Raiders’ first interception in 11 games. Lynch was unable to provide that spark the team desperately needed, and the Broncos went into half time trailing 14-0.
The second half did not start any better, as the Broncos’ offensive line gave up another sack. After an injury to Lynch, Siemian was able to avoid a second Broncos shut out when he threw a touchdown pass to Cody Latimer. Siemian continued to make plays and led the team to within one score when he threw for his second touchdown to Bennie Fowler III. Unfortunately, these last-minute heroics were too little too late, and the Broncos are now in one of the worst losing streaks in team history.
The Broncos defense got off to a good start by forcing the Raiders into a three-and-out. During the game, Denver suffered an injury on the defensive line when Derek Wolfe left the game in the first quarter with a neck injury. Wolfe’s loss was felt, as Lynch and the Raiders were able to start moving the ball on the ground.
While the Broncos defense got to Derek Carr a few times, the team was not able to make plays when it counted. The defense continued to give up big plays throughout the game in key situations. Carr was able to connect with Amari Cooper and Johnny Holton for two touchdowns passes, while Lynch was able to provide 111 total yards along with a touchdown to help seal the Raiders’ victory. The defense wasn’t not able to contain the Raiders in the end.
Special Teams: B
The Broncos special teams was consistent and did not create any mistakes. Riley Dixon had a successful day of punting as he had a 44-yard average. Jordan Matthews did a good job of fielding punts and did not muff an attempt.
Coaching – D
The coaching staff tried to get something started by going with Lynch, but the strategy didn’t pan out; the offense was nonexistent until Siemian came in under center. The coaching staff is going to have some tough decisions to make in the coming week as to who should be the starting quarterback. It is unfortunate that the Broncos coaching staff cannot create a gameplan to help mitigate the glaring holes in the Broncos offense. As the roster stands now, it appears to be too much for the coaching staff to overcome the team’s shortcomings. While Siemian did provide a spark, fans should be prepared for more of the same when the team travels to Miami next week.
The Broncos will travel to Florida to play the Miami Dolphins (4-7) next week. The Dolphins fell to the New England Patriots on Sunday, marking their fifth loss in a row, while the Broncos have now lost seven straight. Outside of a tie happening, at least one of these teams’ losing streaks should get snapped. While neither team is performing well, it is hard to imagine the Broncos going out on the road and beating any team at this point. Look for the Dolphins to earn a victory against the Broncos next week as Denver continues to spiral into the basement of the NFL.